Your Ecological Footprint: Defining, Calculating, and Reducing Your Environmental Footprint

How should ecological footprints be calculated?
These numbers raise a bigger question: how should these footprints even be calculated? While there has been some disagreement about how EF should be calculated, there was a standard set of ecological footprint calculation standards put forth in 2006 that detail both communication and calculation procedures; these standards have helped clear up some sticking points, like how sea area should be counted, how to account for fossil fuels, how to account for nuclear power (many studies simply consider it to have the same ecological footprint as fossil fuels), which data sources used, when average global numbers or local numbers should be used when looking at a specific area, how space for biodiversity should be included, etc.

That doesn't mean that the method is perfect; it's a very macro-level analysis that casts a very wide net, and can't consider every variable the planet's systems have to offer. For example, if yields from organic agriculture are less than their conventional counterpart, the organic farms' footprint would be larger even though organic food is widely considered more planet-friendly than the alternative. Similarly, mechanized rural farmers in developed nations can easily consume more resources than urban inhabitants, due to transportation requirements and the unavailability of economies of scale.

Given all this, how should you think about calculating and reducing your ecological footprint? Read on...

Tags: Earth Day | Green Basics


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